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Farrow & Ball Finish Falls Flat in Consumer Reports Interior Paint Tests

$105 per gallon paint misses the mark; $34 per gallon Behr tops the Ratings

YONKERS, N.Y., Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In Consumer Reports' latest tests of interior paints, Farrow & Ball, a pricey import from England known for its colors, was the worst at hiding old paint and scored near the bottom of the Ratings. It took two coats of its eggshell finish in white, which costs $105 per gallon, to do what the top-rated Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin in white, which costs $34 per gallon, did in one.

The full report and Ratings of interior paints is featured in the March 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

"Our new Ratings show that spending top dollar won't always get you better paint," said Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, Deputy Content Editor of Home and Appliances for Consumer Reports. "Shoppers should also be wary of relying on past experience to pick a paint, as brands frequently reformulate from year to year, changing the performance of the paint."

This year, Consumer Reports toughened its interior paint tests by applying water- and oil-based stains to painted panels in addition to testing how well paints held up to scrubbing, how well they hid old paint and the smoothness of the finish. The Farrow & Ball eggshell and gloss paints left a rough, grainy finish and lost most of their sheen after cleaning, but like the Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin, resisted stains well. Lowe's Valspar and Olympic satin finishes didn't make Consumer Reports' Recommended list this time around.

Additionally, the Farrow & Ball color wasn't that hard to match.  Consumer Reports sent a secret shopper to three Home Depots with a panel painted with Farrow & Ball's Lulworth Blue Estate Eggshell.  The shade of blue, created by Home Depot's computerized, color-matching technology, using the top-scoring Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin was only about one percent lighter, according to Consumer Reports' colorimeter, a difference that testers couldn't see. 

How to Choose

When picking a new interior paint, Consumer Reports suggests the following:

  1. Use online resources to get ideas. Whites and neutrals are in style again, and warm grays are hot too. Consumers can find inspiration at the manufacturers' Pinterest boards and websites, where they can compare color palettes or play with additional painting tools.
  2. Pick the finish. Many eggshell and satin paints have become much better at standing up to scrubbing, according to Consumer Reports' latest tests. Flat paints are better than eggshell at hiding imperfections because they don't reflect light, but they are also the least stain-resistant, so flat-finishes aren't an ideal choice for busy rooms.
  3. Nail the perfect color. Light affects color significantly. Once a hue has been selected, consider buying three samples: the desired color, one a shade lighter and one a shade darker. Paint a sample next to a window and in an area that's dark, viewing the colors in daylight and a night, with the lights on and off.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.  We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, ConsumerReports.org® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

SOURCE Consumer Reports

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